Gagnon drafted in WHL

Ryan Gagnon

Ryan Gagnon

Ryan Gagnon is pretty modest about his achievements, but the Grade 9 student at Quesnel junior secondary school is certainly making his mark with BC Hockey scouts.

Gagnon, 15, who began playing hockey at the tender age of five, has just received notice to get his gear bag ready for Victoria.

The WHL franchise drafted Gagnon, a 6 ft 165 lb defenceman 56th overall in the third round of the recent bantam draft.

“It is very important to be drafted by Victoria because it is just a stepping stone to pro hockey,” Gagnon said of the WHL draft.

Besides providing a potentially big stepping stone into professional hockey, Gagnon also admitted playing in the WHL offered several other advantages besides playing against top-notch competition.

“Even if I don’t get drafted into the National Hockey League I still get my schooling paid for,” he said referring to the WHL’s academic scholarships that cover a year’s worth of tuition for every year played.

Although Gagnon has his eye on the WHL, BC Hockey scouts have their eye on him.

Gagnon, captain of the Quesnel Bantam Thunder tier three hockey team this year, is going to Penticton in July for the BC Hockey U16 provincial camp.

The invitation to the U16 provincial camp puts Gagnon one of only 68 players invited to the camp based on their performance at the U16 BC Cup.

Gagnon had a good BC Cup in Kamloops, April 28 – May 1, collecting two goals and assist in five games, third among defenceman.

Although the invitation to the BC Cup was deserved, Gagnon was still flattered and humble by the recognition.

“It meant a lot to be invited to U16 BC cup,” he said.

“ I knew it was going to be a great week of hockey.

“I looked forward to playing against the best players in the province.”

Selection to the provincial camp is quite an achievement, considering Gagnon began BC Hockey’s U16 five-step program at the zone camps in March.

Gagnon admitted that first step highlighted strengths as a skater and as a physical player, but also pointed to a shot and foot speed that needed improvement.

But Colin Keis, former coach of the Quesnel Thunder, disagreed.

“At the stage of development he’s at, he has a great shot,” Keis said.

Although he admits to a few weaknesses in his game, the evidence thus far points to a bright future for Gagnon in hockey.

“You can tell he’s a step above the others on the ice,” Keis said.

As captain of the Quesnel Thunder Tier 3 bantam hockey team this year, Gagnon tallied 58 goals and 50 assists in 50 games.

Gagnon also spent 106 minutes in the penalty box, a good sign for teams looking for a defenceman with a physical approach to the game.

“He certainly has the size and strength to compete,” Keis said.

In preparation for the U16 provincial camp Gagnon will keep in mind what he says is the best piece of advice a coach gave him.

“Give it your all and leave nothing in the tank,” he said.

“My dad told me this when he coached me.”